Education in Turkey is governed by a national system which was established in accordance with the Atatürk’s Reforms. It is a state-supervised system designed to produce a skillful professional class for the social and economic institutes of the nation.
Compulsory education lasts 12 years. Primary and secondary education is financed by the state and free of charge in public schools, between the ages of 6 and 19. Secondary or high school education is not mandatory but required in order to then progress to universities. Turkey has over 200 universities as of 2022
After the foundation of the Turkish Republic the organization of the Ministry of Education gradually developed and was reorganized with the Law no 2287 issued in 1933. The Ministry changed its names several times. It fell under the Ministry of Culture (1935–1941) and was named Ministry of National Education, Youth, and Sports (1983–1989). Since then it has been called the Ministry of National Education. Before the Republic, education institutions were far from having a national character. Schools were organized in three separate channels which were vertical institutions independent of each other. The first and the most common in this organization were the district schools and madrasas based on the teaching of the Quran the Arabian language and memorizing, the second were the Reform schools and high schools supporting innovation and the third were the colleges and minority schools with foreign language education. On 1 November 1928, Law no 1353 introducing a new Latin-based alphabet was accepted. In 1931, the Turkish Association of History, and in 1932, the Turkish Language Association were established to protect Turkish from influences of foreign languages, improve it as science suggests and prevent misuse of the Turkish language. The Republican Turkish authorities initially had twelve education districts headed by people appointed by the ministry, but later gave more power to local authorities, with education directors appointed by provincial authorities.
Until 1997 children in Turkey were obliged to take five years of education. The 1997 reforms introduced compulsory education for eight years. New legislation introduced in March 2012 prolonged compulsory education to 12 years.,
Primary school lasts 4 years. Primary education covers the education and teaching directed to children between 6–14, is compulsory for all citizens, boys or girls, and is given free of charge in public schools There are four core subjects at first, second and third grades which are Turkish, mathematics, Hayat Bilgisi (literally meaning “life knowledge”), and foreign language. At fourth grade, Hayat Bilgisi is replaced by science and social studies. The foreign language taught at schools changes from school to school. The most common one is English, while some schools teach German, French or Spanish instead of English. Some private schools teach two foreign languages at the same time.
There are five core subjects at sixth and seventh grades: Turkish, mathematics, science, social studies, and foreign language. At eighth grade, social studies is replaced by “Turkish History of Revolution and Kemalism” (Turkish: T.C. İnkılap Tarihi ve Atatürkçülük).
The system for being accepted to a high school changes almost every year. Sometimes private schools have different exams, sometimes there are 3 exams for 3 years, sometimes there’s only one exam but it is calculated differently, sometimes they only look at your school grades. General secondary education covers the education of children between 15 and 17 for at least three years after primary education. General secondary education includes high schools, foreign language teaching high schools, Anatolian High Schools, high schools of science, Anatolia teacher training high schools, and Anatolia fine arts high schools. In public high schools and vocational high schools, students attend six classes each day, which last for approximately 40 minutes each. In Anatolian high schools and private high schools, the daily programme is typically longer, up to eight classes each day, also including a lunch period. All 9th graders are taught the same classes nationwide, with minor differences in certain cases. These classes are: Turkish language, Turkish literature, mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, geometry, world history, geography, religion & ethics, physical education, a foreign language (in most cases English), a second foreign language (most commonly German but could be French, Italian, Japanese, Arabic, Russian, or Chinese). When students enter the 11th grade, they typically choose one of four tracks: Turkish language–mathematics, science, social sciences, and foreign languages. In vocational high schools, no tracks are offered, while in science high schools only the science tracks are offered. Different schools may have different policies; some, but not many, schools offer electives instead of academic tracks, giving students a wider range of options. For the 10th, 11th and 12th grade, the compulsory courses are: Turkish language, Turkish literature and republican history. In addition to that, students may be taught the following classes, depending on the track they choose and/or the high school they attend: mathematics, geometry, statistics, physics, biology, chemistry, geography, philosophy, psychology, sociology, economy, logic, arts and music, traffic and health, computer, physical education, first and second foreign language.
The students used to be given a diploma for the academic track they had chosen, which gave them an advantage if they wanted to pursue their higher education in the corresponding fields, as the University Entrance Exam scores were weighted according to the student’s track. (e.g. A science student would have an advantage over a Turkish-Mathematics student when applying for Medicine). As of the 2010–2011 educational year, all high school students are given the standard high school diploma. At the end of high school, following the 12th grade, students take a high school finishing examination and they are required to pass this in order to take the University Entrance Exam and continue their studies at a university. There are four score types for different academic fields, including but not limited to:
- Turkish language–mathematics: international relations, law, education, psychology, economy, business management, and similar.
- Science: engineering, computer science, medicine, and other science-related professions.
- Social sciences: history, geography, and education.
- Foreign languages: language/linguistics and language teaching
İn Turkey, uniforms are obligated in every school but the features usually changes. For example, public schools usually have a one color t-shirt and a skirt for girls and pants for boys. However, in private schools there is no one type of uniform. İt’s more like clothes that has the school’s name on it (sweatshirts, cardigans ect.)